Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Not Going There

There are some places I'm not willing to go as an author. Sure. I've thought about it, but the idea of writing some scenes make me uncomfortable, and if I feel uncomfortable about them, then I can only imagine many of my readers would too.
I've been thinking about this concept a lot in the past week. You see, in the last episode of the Fosters I watched, Leena was forced to terminate her pregnancy at 20 weeks because of severe preeclampsia and the possibility of "maternal mortality" I think was the term they used. Although the Fosters has dealt with all sorts of hard issues like same-sex relationships, rape, and drugs to name a few, there's always been an underlying positivity, almost a cheerfulness, so as a viewer you felt no matter what happened, things would be okay.
Well, for me, all of that was pretty much destroyed last week. I totally didn't see this twist coming, it happened fast and suddenly. I know that I am probably a little more sensitive to this kind of tragic storyline because I am a mum and its all too easy to recall those joyful yet tense months of pregnancy. My own life situation aside, I was devastated by this turn of events, as I'm sure many fans were. I know that in TV land, people quickly move on from this kind of tragedy, but the way this story played out has definitely taken some of the shine off The Fosters for me and I'm not looking forward to this week's episode like I normally would.
This isn't the first time an event in a story has put me at odds. A while ago, I was reading a sci-fi romance by a popular sci-fi romance author. I'd read many of her books before and always enjoyed them. However, in this particular book, the aliens had taken a whole bunch of people captive, and in order to subdue them, decided to use some sort of gas that put them to sleep. However, there were several babies and pregnant women in the group (in varying stages of pregnancy). The gas had the unfortunate affect of killing the babies and making all the pregnant women miscarry. One of the pregnant women even died as she bled out and none of their captors tried to help her. I put that book down and since then haven't been able to bring myself to read this particular author. For weeks after, I kept thinking about this story, questioning why the author had to take the story there. Personally, I believe it didn't add any value to the story, and actually made me intensely dislike the hero, who was the leader of the aliens and had made the decision to gas the people they were holding captive.
I'm not saying these types of scenes in literature and fiction don't have their place, and obviously every author is free to write whatever they see fit. But in romance, which is at heart meant to be a pleasant escapist type of read, there are some places an author doesn't need to go. In the case of that particular book, I almost felt like the scene had been put in there for shock value, as opposed to any real development in character or story. Even if I'd been able to finish the book, I doubt I would have been able to forgive the hero for the part he played in the tragedy. Given, he couldn't have known that the gas would have the affect it did, but surely he could have found a better way to deal with the uncooperative group of people he'd abducted.
Now, I'm not saying I wouldn't ever use some of these storylines myself, but there are definitely some ways I wouldn't use them, if that makes sense. I actually do have in mind a particular story where the heroine gets pregnant and then loses the baby within the first few weeks, because miscarriage in the early stages of pregnancy is unfortunately quite common. However, I'll be doing my best to handle it carefully and respectfully, because no doubt such a situation may hit close to home for some of my readers.
When sitting in front of your computer, writing your books, its easy to forget, or even disregard the masses who will eventually experience this story you've created. Or, its easy to think of them as "the masses" and nothing more, not thinking to closely about the fact that they're individuals with a myriad of life experiences they'll bring to the table when siting down to read your book. I hate to think I might ever write anything that could for one, make a reader put my book down, and worse, never be able to read any of my books again.
I might not always get it right, but I'm always doing my best to be mindful of the journey I take my readers on.

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